Credit Mike Chamberlain for this eye-opening study on bird movement after the hunter's patience had run out. Through GPS tracking and an installed transmitter you'll find bird movements in red, hunter movements in green, with correlating times throughout the morning.
The bird stays near roost site well after fly down time. Hunter sets up for a while, then heads out. Bird cuts across hunter’s access route, and ends up EXACTLY where the hunter was 3 hours after he had left the set up. This bird clearly had experience navigating a risky landscape, and he returned to the same roost that night - which is actually not all that common across studied males.
This just goes to show that the key to hunting success is patience! And there is no such thing as an average gobbler, regardless of age. This one clearly knew the game and how to play it!
A rule of thumb that I have just recently started to use in the past few seasons is challenging my self-disciple a little when it comes to patience - even when I know the last time I heard a gobble was 100+ yards away and moving the opposite direction. If I am not planning to make a move on the bird and head back to the truck, I pack up all of my calls, etc. just as if I were leaving, to the point where I would usually stand up and walk out - but instead, at that time I look at my watch and just sit still for 10 minutes. No calling, no looking around, no checking the phone, just sit still in a semi-ready position and see what happens.
While it doesn't work every time, it has worked a few. I can think of one turkey two seasons ago that was over my shoulder before that 10 minutes was even up, along with several other instances where one gobbled close by that I never knew was there. Other times, it was a complete waste of ten minutes, but that's a chance I am willing to take after noticing how long ten minutes can seem to a subordinate gobbler that was planning on showing up silently as long as I kept letting the one I was hunting know where I was.
It's good to see a little proof to a lesson some of us might have read in The Wild Turkey and it's Hunting by Edward A McIlhenny and Chas L. Jordan in the early 1900's. He made a friend of his sit for hours and hours with 100% confidence that the turkey they were after would eventually at least pass through later in the day, checking for the hen he had heard earlier that morning. He did, and he shot him.
We have to remember, as hunters, that these birds don't abide with the concept of time in their minds. I promise that in the months of spring, there is not a thing in the world that a male wild turkey has better to do than exactly what you're trying to persuade him to.